By way of introduction, I offer the following several interrelated quotes:
"Though I am different from you, we were born involved in one another."
"We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand
invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as
causes and return to us as results..."
"When we try to pick out something by itself, we find it hitched to
everything else in the Universe."
"We are one, after all, you and I; together we suffer, together exist, and
forever will recreate each other."
Teilhard de Chardin
These quotes form the mirror and the means for my work in violence
prevention, and I think about them every day.
I was born in 1947 and grew up on the south side in Chicago, Illinois, the
second child and only daughter of a Jewish couple. While all of the
educational attention went to my brother (as was standard in Jewish
families at that time), I was never expected to amount to much other than
to become the wife of someone or other and raise children in the family's
image. So it should come as no surprise that my parents had no idea that
while I was telling them that I was off ice skating on the University of
Chicago's midway when I was in high school, I was really attending CORE
(Congress of Racial Equality), SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) and
SNCC (Student Non-
Violent Coordinating Committee) meetings. Raised in the shadow of Saul
Alinsky, the famous grassroots neighborhood organizer, and as a child of
the early sixties, my life became imbued with a fascination for critical
thinking rather than kreplach-making, and I began very early on to seek out
the holes in the life that surrounded me, what George Hosking referred to
as "what is missing," and try to fill them.
Add to this mix two other important factors:
1. My mother, who had been raised as the middle child of 5 in the *only*
Jewish family in a small Indiana community (orthodox Jews to boot!) became,
as an adult, fairly repressed. When my father (a native Chicagoan) asked
her to marry him, she thought she was marrying into Jewish aristocracy, and
asked his cousin how many ball gowns she should bring. I don't know what
his cousin told her, but she wasn't marrying into any kind of easy life at
all. She was marrying into a Jewish ghetto on Chicago's west side, into a
family of all women that would subvert, submerge and suffocate her, a
family where all the men had long since left their women, either through
actual desertion, through death, or through escape into Talmudic
scholarship. She was furious with my father. When I was born, and was as
exact a duplication of him as I could be, she found an easy scapegoat in me
and beat me mercilessly until I left home. The phrase "child abuse" was
not yet in common use at that time.
2. My parents dabbled in antiques, and would make frequent forays to
country antique stores with me in tow. I would sit myself down in the
section of the stores where the old photos were kept and would pour over
them. During one visit to Charlie's Barn somewhere in Indiana when I was
about 8 years old, Charlie, the shop owner, asked me why I was always
looking at photos. I replied with the 8 year old equivalent of this:
"Because photographs are true and real and that's how I learn about the
past." He then said to me, "I'm going to give you something that you won't
understand now, but hold onto them; you will understand sometime in the
future." And he handed me two photographs of a lynching in Indiana from
the sometime in the 1940's. What appalled me even more than seeing the two
black men hanging from their necks in those trees until they were dead was
the look of glee on the faces of the spectators. I never forgot them.
In retrospect, I grew into a person with an infinite capacity to love, an
intense drive to make and keep the peace, a delight in my culinary Jewish
heritage and a wonderful sense of humor.
Jump ahead to the late '70's and early '80's.
After what seems like a dozen lifetimes; after a degree and career in fine
art photography and textile design; after a career in arts administration;
after careers as a consultant and writer (six books) and an educator and
on and on...I was putting together the foundation, piece by piece, without
consciously knowing it, for my life's work in trying to get people to stop
killing each other. I looked for "what was missing" in my constellation of
skills, filled the holes, and went on to the next void until I felt the
In the early '80's I established The Institute for Intercultural
Understanding, a not-for-profit organization involved nationally and
internationally in projects dedicated to the mission of creating
understanding among diverse populations, whether they are worlds or just
awareness apart from one another.
Our major project, called "Voiceless Victims," has been an ongoing
collection (in anticipation of a worldwide exhibition) and study of the art
and poetry of children who have been affected in war and conflict
situations. This study has taken me to the Middle East several times, the
Soviet Union (pre-peristroika), Belfast, and other communities, both here
and abroad, where kids have been and are at risk. This project has
received funding from two unique entertainment products -- a benefit
recording I put together from Columbia/Sony Records created just for this
project called " 'Til Their Eyes Shine -- The Lullaby Album" (released
July, 1992), and the companion film, "Child of Mine -- The Lullaby Video",
first broadcast on the Disney Channel in December 1992 and winner of the
CableAce Award for Best musical special on cable television during 1993.
This recording and film feature prominent vocalists including Carole King,
Mary Chapin Carpenter, Rosanne Cash, Dionne Warwick, Brenda Russell, Gloria
Estefan and others performing lullabies, many of which were composed for
this album. More information about the "Voiceless Victims" project is
available -- just email me or drop me a line.
Early in the '90's, I accepted a three year stint as the Manager of
Multicultural Education at the Kentucky Department of Education because I
see an indelible connection between multicultural education and violence
abatement. As part of my responsibilities at the Department, I defined
multicultural education for the Commonwealth during our landmark school
reform; created policy guidelines for implementation of multicultural
curriculum; designed and implemented state-wide multicultural education
workshop/training matrixes and conferences; and worked closely with both
Department and district personnel to bring them up to speed on
When I left the Dept. of Ed., I wrote the book, _Teaching Peace_, an effort
to address the one question I receive with consistency from the people for
whom I lecture and give workshops: What can I do? I will be uploading the
book by chapters into the Family Services Forum library and will let
everyone know the section(s) in which you can find it.
Since the book came out, I have been speaking and conducting workshops
around the country; continuing to work in migrant education as a crisis
intervener/troubleshooter/educator in migrant communities for the Feds
(Dept. of Education) as a poorly paid consultant; and working on several
projects simultaneously (information for which can either be uploaded or
can be sent via snail mail):
* No More Violence -- A National Institute on Youth in
Violence and Aggression
( a 3.5 day learning institute that will take place in six
cities in 1997)
* Teaching Peace Bus
(A traveling program that will take people on a tour of
violence in their own communities)
* Parents and Ambassadors of Louisville
(A neighborhood program to keep kids from being
harassed by the police and to keep them out of
* Several books, among which are:
No More Violence -- Programs that Work
(A collection of information about violence-
abatement programs that are already in
Doing Drugs -- Conversations with Children
Eighteen and Alive -- Conversations with Parents
Study Guide for Teaching Peace
Voiceless Victims -- A Study of Childism
My life is full. I am a single mother of three lively teenagers, the
guardian for another (like three wasn't already enough!). I work an
average of 10 hours a day, six (sometimes seven) days a week dealing with
the issues brought up by this group. I have a significant other, a child
and adolescent psychiatrist who has been involved in civil rights issues
for more years than I am alive. I laugh every day, whether I want to or
not. And, of course, I still feel as though I can't do enough fast enough.
In my conversation with George this morning, I was searching for a way to
share my resources and the knowledge that I've already acquired with you
all. I described to him the method in which I work, a process developed as
a direct response to the several things I've found throughout my years of
working in this field that people and communities repeatedly, and without
exception, have needed. He suggested that I share this with you as a
beginning. They are:
1. Raising their level of awareness about the problem.
2. Devising a way to make people aware of how the
problem affects them DIRECTLY.
3. Providing them with resources to address the problem in
their own community/school/home, etc.
4. Teaching them how to access and use those resources.
And I will add a fifth ingredient which is absolutely essential:
5. Provide them with ongoing support in their endeavor to
address the problem.
This is the method I use. It is labor intensive. There is no immediate
gratification. There is always the danger of burn-out. But it works.
I am interested in helping in any way that I can, and also in learning a
lot from you all.
Jan Arnow, one of the country's leading authorities on the
psychology and teaching practices of multi-cultural education and
violence abatement, has been conducting research and fieldwork
on these issues for nearly two decades. During her tenure as the
Manager of Multi-Cultural Education for the Kentucky Department
of Education, she authored the state's groundbreaking policy
guidelines for multi-cultural education, and continues to travel
throughout the country to present her program to educators,
parents and community leaders. The founder of the Institute for
Intercultural Understanding in Louisville, Kentucky, Arnow is the
author of five previous books. Teaching Peace, by Jan Arnow
Jan Arnow, the founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Intercultural Understanding based in Louisville, Kentucky, travels worldwide to educate parents, teachers, doctors and others about ethics and violence, and their current risks to children. One of her presentations last year was to the General Assembly of the United Nations. Her most recent book, Teaching Peace: How to Raise Children to Live in Harmony -- Without Fear, Without Prejudice, Without Violence, has sold over 10,000 copies. She is currently working on: several new books (one of which examines the correlation between violence andvalues); a national institute on violence which will travel to six cities in 1998; numerous workshops and lectures; the class, "Violence: Past, Present & Future;" a new anti-violence initiative that will be piloted here in Louisville (No More Violence Bus); and on additional projects for the worldwide nonviolence movement.
No More Violence Bus - Teaching Peace
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